Set-Top BoxWashington, DC (April 26, 2016):  The Multicultural Media, Telecom and Internet Council (MMTC) has filed comments in the Federal Communications Commission’s (FCC) Set-Top Box Proceeding, urging the Commission to reconsider its proposal due to the adverse unintended consequences for diverse and independent programmers.  Nine other national civil rights organizations (the MMTC Coalition) joined MMTC as signers on the comments.[1]

“The Commission is promoting a model that hands over the hard work of diverse programmers and content creators to companies that will profit from their work without compensating them,” stated MMTC President and CEO Kim Keenan.  “The Commission should not place its finger on the scale and pick winners and losers in this proceeding, with diverse content creators and distributors clearly on the losing end.  We urge the Commission to pause this proceeding and conduct evidentiary studies on the impact of the set top box proposal on diversity, privacy, and cost to consumers.”

The MMTC Coalition recommends that the Commission pause its set-top proceeding in order to conduct several crucial evidentiary studies.  Specifically, the MMTC Coalition urges the Commission to:

  • Conduct an empirical study exploring the proposal’s impact on diverse content, diverse ownership, and the visibility of diverse faces on-screen
  • Analyze the likely increased costs to consumers under the proposal
  • Assess the proposal’s impact on consumer privacy protections

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BroadbandThis week, AT&T announced the launch of a new program to address the issue that has  left many consumers without Internet service stranded on the wrong side of the digital divide: price.

Called “Access from AT&T,” the program will help bring Internet access to qualifying households at a more affordable rate.  MMTC is excited to help get the word out about this important new program and to ensure that the people who need it most find out about it first.

Programs like Access from AT&T are key to connecting every American regardless of income.  Whether the Internet is used in a job search, to access virtual library shelves, or to complete an online education, MMTC has long advocated that Internet service can change lives for the better. [click to continue…]

Washington, DC (April 20, 2016):  Today, Comcast announced its new Xfinity TV Partner Program that will allow consumers to access their Comcast cable service without a traditional set-top box thanks to new partnerships with Samsung and Roku to include Comcast Xfinity apps on their devices.  The Multicultural Media, Telecom and Internet Council (MMTC) lauds Comcast for this innovation and effort to improve viewer experience.

“The marketplace is the best way to drive innovation,” stated MMTC President and CEO Kim Keenan.  “Comcast is leading the pack by freeing its customers of the box while allowing them to choose what and where they will watch their cable package.”

The availability of apps from cable providers such as Comcast, Time Warner Cable, and Charter on devices such as Roku and Samsung Smart TV further supports MMTC’s position that the FCC’s unlock the box proceeding is unnecessary.  [click to continue…]

VOTEOn April 18, 2016, the Multicultural Media, Telecom and Internet Council (MMTC), along with 8 national civil rights and minority media organizations, wrote the following letter to the 2016 presidential candidates; the Democratic, Republican, Green, and Libertarian National Committees; and the top SuperPACs representing each candidate. The letter urges the candidates, parties, and PACs to include minority-owned media as a major component of their advertising plans throughout the 2016 campaign.

MMTC President and CEO Kim Keenan stated, “Communities of color have a deep connection with minority owned media, yet time after time they are ignored during the election cycle, or treated as an afterthought during the last moments of the campaign.  Our community deserves more than last-minute advertising. Candidates from every party, PAC, and as individuals need to put their messages in our media so our people can be mobilized to vote.  Advertising in trusted, minority media sources helps voters to identify which candidates have their best interests at heart, and is a prime opportunity to meet a key voting segment ‘where they are.’ Candidates must invest their ad dollars in minority- and women-owned media.”

The text of the letter, including the full list of organizations, is below. A PDF is also available here.

To:

The Honorable Hillary Clinton
The Honorable Ted Cruz
The Honorable John Kasich
The Honorable Bernie Sanders
Mr. Donald Trump
Democratic National Committee
     Attn: The Honorable Debbie Wasserman Schultz, Chairwoman
Green Party National Committee
     Attn: Jan Martell, Secretary
Libertarian National Committee
     Attn:  Wes Benedict, Executive Director
Republican National Committee
     Attn: The Honorable Reince Priebus, Chairman
Keep the Promise III
     Attn: Jon Francis, President
Make America Great Again
     Attn: Leslie Caldwell, Secretary
New Day for America
     Attn: Matt Carle, Executive Director
Priorities USA Action
     Attn: Buffy Wicks, Executive Director

April 18, 2016

Dear Colleagues:

            RE:       Political Campaign Engagement with Minority-Owned Media

We write to appeal to each of you to confirm that minority-owned media will be included as a major component of your advertising plans throughout the 2016 campaign.

Our constituents, comprising nearly 30% of the electorate, want and deserve to hear from all sides of public policy debates.

For nearly 200 years, minority-owned media has been the benchmark for credibility and the key to generating enthusiastic engagement by voters of color.  For this reason, ads in minority publications have enormous impact relative to their cost.

Credibility and engagement of voters must be earned over time from the beginning to the end of campaigns.  They cannot be produced with a twenty-year-old recycled ad template published in the final two weeks of a campaign – a pattern that we have seen appear every two years.

Placing ads throughout the campaign, in newspapers, websites, or broadcast stations that represent voters of color, demonstrates that the candidate “walks the walk” of supporting minority entrepreneurship.  This remains an issue of profound importance to voters of color and is a key issue on which all of the parties and candidates should agree.

At your disposal are a host of minority-owned media outlets:  over 400 newspapers, over 500 radio stations, over two dozen widely read minority-owned political and social justice websites, and over a dozen widely viewed cable channels.  We can provide lists of these outlets on request.

Please respond within ten days to promptly to advise us of your specific plans to use minority- owned print, broadcast, and online media throughout the remainder of this year’s campaign.  We look forward to sharing your plans with our constituency.

Sincerely,  */

Kim M. Keenan
President and CEO
Multicultural Media, Telecom and Internet Council (MMTC)

Martha Montoya
President
National Association of Hispanic Publications

Marc H. Morial
President and CEO
National Urban League

Mee Moua
President and Executive Director
Asian Americans Advancing Justice | AAJC

Denise Rolark-Barnes
Chair
National Newspaper Publishers Association

Hilary O. Shelton
Director, Washington Bureau and Senior Vice President for Advocacy and Policy
NAACP

Sonny Skyhawk
Founder
American Indians in Film and Television

Brent Wilkes
National Executive Director
League of United Latin American Citizens (LULAC)

James Winston
President and Executive Director
National Association of Black Owned Broadcasters

April 13, 2016

 

The Honorable Greg Walden
2186 Rayburn House Office Building
Washington, DC 20515

The Honorable Anna Eshoo
241 Cannon House Office Building
Washington, DC 20515

Dear Congressman Walden and Congresswoman Eshoo:

The Multicultural Media, Telecom and Internet Council (“MMTC”) respectfully submits this letter to express our concern about the proposals included in H.R. 4884, Controlling the Unchecked and Reckless Ballooning of the Lifeline Fund Act (“CURB Lifeline Act 2015”).  Our concerns are focused on the two-year phase out of mobile voice as an eligible service and the proposal of a hard cap on the Lifeline program budget.  We also provide feedback on H.R. 3998, Securing Access to Networks in Disasters Act (“SANDy Act”).

On March 24, 2016, fourteen civil rights organizations, including MMTC, sent a letter to the Federal Communications Commission (“the Commission”) requesting that newly adopted Lifeline program rules embrace and support multiple technologies so that the nation’s neediest communities can reach parity with the rest of the nation in terms of broadband infrastructure.1   Our organizations also called on the Commission to be cautious in the establishment of new minimum standards for mobile voice services, coupled with the immediate reduction and eventual elimination of available support for mobile voice services.  We continue to maintain that removing support for mobile voice will potentially price out the very people that the Lifeline program is seeking to support.  Consequently, we urge that Congress not mandate the phase-out of mobile voice-only service within two years of enactment.  Historically disadvantaged consumers, such as low-income populations, seniors, the disabled, and others, have demonstrated their reliance on wireless voice services as their primary “lifeline” to communications services and a road out of poverty.  As MMTC has shared with the Commission, access to broadband services must be more ubiquitous before redirecting the subsidy toward broadband-only services for these vulnerable populations.  [click to continue…]

WASHINGTON, D.C. (April 4, 2016):  After nearly eleven years, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), on March 31, issued its Multilingual Emergency Alert System (EAS) Order (“EAS Order”) essentially rejecting the “Katrina Petition” filed following Hurricane Katrina in 2005 by the Multicultural Media, Telecommunications, and Internet Council (MMTC), the Independent Spanish Broadcasters Association, and the Office of Communication of the United Church of Christ.

The Petition, driven by the events leading up to, during, and after Hurricane Katrina, sought to ensure that in life-threatening emergencies, such as hurricanes that disable telephone and some broadcast communications, at least one radio station would pre-commit to providing life-saving information in widely spoken languages other than English.

The FCC’s own 2006 Katrina Advisory Committee, headed by former NTIA Director Nancy Victory, endorsed relief similar to the reforms recommended by the Katrina Petition.  Fifty-seven national organizations endorsed the Katrina Petition.  This overwhelming support for the Petition was not noted in the FCC’s Order.  [click to continue…]

Washington, DC (April 1, 2016): The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has announced its plans to modernize the Lifeline program subsidy for wireline and wireless service for low-income consumers; the Commission will begin offering broadband support this year and phase in a mobile broadband minimum service standard over the next five years.

The Multicultural Media, Telecom and Internet Council (MMTC) believes the Commission’s action to modernize the Lifeline program will provide affordable voice and broadband services to eligible, low-income consumers.  MMTC agrees with the Commission that streamlining program administration can only lead to a more innovative, effective, and robust program.  MMTC supports the Commission’s decision to forego implementing a cap on the Lifeline program, but rather impose a fiscally responsible budget.

“Today’s action is a step forward to address the 21st century needs of all Americans.  We will review the Order to ensure that it fully meets the needs of our nation’s most vulnerable communities,” stated MMTC President and CEO Kim Keenan.  “While we are optimistic about today’s actions, we hope that the program does not get lost in partisan debates.  Lifeline must be available to close the digital divide for the benefit of low-income consumers.”  [click to continue…]

Special Discount! BESLA offering MMTC members discounted registration at $185 rate for professionals and $85 for law students. Email MMTC Director of Communications Marcella Gadson at mgadson [at] mmtconline [dot] org for the promo code! Visit BESLA.org for more information.

BESLA (Black Entertainment & Sports Lawyers Association) will host their Mid-Year Conference in New York City at Fordham University on April 4, 2016.

Following in this year’s theme, “Succeeding in the Entertainment and Sports Industries,” the conference will include several panels covering an array of topics such as digital media and tips to climbing the corporate ladder.

UPTOWN_la_reidThis year’s featured guest speaker is music industry veteran L.A. Reid, who will take part in an intimate and enlightening discussion about his experiences in the entertainment business.

A special luncheon panel on running a major sports union will feature DeMaurice F. Smith(Executive Director, The National Football League Players Association) and Michele A. Roberts (Executive Director, The National Basketball Players Association).

Other speakers include: Keith Clinkscales(CEO of Revolt TV & Media), Keyes Hill-Edgar (EVP of Business Affairs and General Counsel, Viacom Media Networks), Carlos Fleming (VP of Talent Management, WME/IMG), Kenny Chandler (Chief Human Resources Officer, Under Armour), Lori Aken (Sr. Vice President of Global Talent Acquisition and learning, Sony Pictures Entertainment), Ken Shropshire (Director of Spots Business Initiative and Special Counsel, Duane Morris, LLP), Endi Piper (Sr. Vice President and General Counsel, TV One) and Antonious Porch (General Counsel, Shazam).

“BESLA is incredibly excited and honored to have DeMaurice Smith and Michele Roberts headline the luncheon roundtable during this year’s mid-year conference,” shared the conference’s Co-chair Derek Jackson, Managing Counsel & VP of Business Affairs, Sports Marketing for Under Armour. “Both have used their legal backgrounds to become two of the most important and influential people in the sports industry, so conference attendees will benefit greatly from having a chance to interact with them and learn about some of their keys to success.”

“As we fulfill our mission at BESLA, by striving to empower our members and provide access to key influencers, what better way is there to achieve this than offering an up close and personal discussion with one of the music industry’s legendary producers and record label executives, Mr. Antonio “LA” Reid, the man who has discovered some of the biggest pop stars on the planet,” says Matt Middleton, conference Co-chair of Matthew J. Middleton Law, P.C.  [click to continue…]

On March 24, 2016, the Multicultural Media, Telecom and Internet Council (MMTC), along with 13 national civil rights organizations, filed a letter with Federal Communications Commission (FCC) Chairman Tom Wheeler, advocating against the Commission’s proposed institution of mandatory Lifeline co-pays. The full letter is below.

Dear Chairman Wheeler:

In 2060, people of color are projected to comprise 56 percent of the total U.S. population, up from just 38 percent in 2014.  This shift in the demographic composition of our country will generate more interest and urgency in addressing issues around economic and social mobility.  A crucial aspect of ensuring our continued economic growth in the future is to support ubiquitous access to online tools and resources.  For many Americans, particularly consumers of color, broadband access facilitates commerce, employment, education, and health care, all of which are critical to exercising first class, digital citizenship.  As representatives of the nation’s leading civil rights and social justice organizations, we laud the Commission’s efforts to modernize the Lifeline program to include broadband, but request that the agency proceeds fully informed of the real life circumstances of economically disadvantaged populations who are the intended program beneficiaries.

In your March 8, 2016 blog co-authored with Commissioner Mignon Clyburn, you state that the proposed Lifeline reforms will, “provide a pathway out of poverty for low-income consumers by modernizing Lifeline for the 21st century.”[1]   We support this statement and feel that absent stable and affordable access to communications service, vulnerable populations that include low-income households, rural residents, seniors, the disabled and disproportionately people of color, will have their voices muted in every sphere of their public and private lives and their aspirations never fully realized. [click to continue…]

Washington, DC (March 24, 2016): The Multicultural Media, Telecom and Internet Council (MMTC) has released a White Paper titled, “A Lifeline to High-Speed Internet Access: An Economic Analysis of Administration Costs and the Impact on Consumers.” The White Paper focuses on the reform of the Lifeline program’s administrative structure to shift responsibilities for eligibility verification and program administration from service providers to a more centralized government process.  The paper was commissioned by MMTC with economic analysis provided by Dr. Coleman Bazelon from The Brattle Group and Dr. Olga Ukhaneva from Georgetown’s Center for Business and Public Policy.  Dr. Nicol Turner-Lee, MMTC’s Vice President and Chief Research and Policy Officer was the Senior Researcher along with Devan Hankerson, MMTC’s Research Director.

The general findings of the White Paper were that the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) should proceed with the modernization of the Lifeline program to include broadband, or access to high-speed Internet.  Given the affordability concerns of low-income, eligible Lifeline subscribers, the program will serve to facilitate first class, digital citizenship for these consumers.  In support of the provision of services to include broadband, the authors find that the FCC-reported estimates for Lifeline program administration are outdated and grossly understated for the service providers that currently administer the program attenuating competition and increased innovation in Lifeline products and services.  Further, the report highlights four key findings that should encourage policymakers to immediately remove service providers from administering Lifeline program eligibility verification and other functions.  [click to continue…]